12 Dog Diseases Every Dog Owner Should Know About
The following common dog diseases can be found in dog breeds around the world. Every dog owner should be educated and aware of them. Take the time to inform yourself, it may save a canine life!
Heartworms are worms that live in the heart and lungs of their hosts. Dogs are the most common hosts of heartworms, but these parasites are known to infect other mammals (such as cats, ferrets, and wild rabbits). Humans are not a natural host for this parasite. Heartworms are NOT dog to dog contagious because the parasites are spread by mosquito bites.
The only way for a dog to contract heartworms is through the bite of an infected mosquito. The larvae mature in 6-7 months, reproduce rapidly and can grow as long as 12 inches. They have a lifespan of about 7 years. A badly infected dog can have hundreds of these parasites clogging their lungs, heart and surrounding blood vessels.
Symptoms of heartworm may be a mild cough, fatigue, decreased appetite and weight loss. Badly infected dogs can develop a blockage of blood-flow and cardiovascular collapse called Caval syndrome.
The best treatment for heartworm is prevention. Heartworm prevention medication should be given regularly as these medications are highly effective-but not 100%. Therefore, annual heartworm tests should be given to all dogs as a precaution.
When treating an infected dog, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommends the use of a drug called melarsomin, injected in three separate doses, along with other medications. At this time it is very important to limit a dogs’ activity so the parasites do not break off and spread throughout the system. The treatment for heartworms can be touch and go and is a costly and dangerous process.
The importance of keeping a dog on heartworm prevention medication cannot be overstated-it is critical!
More great information can be found at the American Heartworm Society Website.
2. Intestinal Worms
There are several types of intestinal worms that cause health problems in dogs. They are a very common disease in dogs. We are going to take a brief look at four of them: roundworms, hookworms whipworms and tapeworms. Generally, a fecal exam is needed to detect worms as most worms are not detectable to the naked eye.
Roundworms may be transmitted to a mother to their puppies during birth or even from the nursing mothers milk. Female roundworms can produce up to 100,000 eggs in one day. The eggs are encased in a hard shell and can last in soil for several years! When eaten by a dog, the larvae hatch and grow in the intestines. A severe roundworm infection can cause death. Fortunately, they are many dewormers available to treat this parasite.
Hookworms are slender worms with a hook-like mouth that attaches inside the intestines of its host. These tiny worms can only be detected under a microscope. A severe infestation can kill puppies. Hookworm larvae is passed to puppies through their mother’s milk. Contact with feces-contaminated soil also spreads this parasite as the larvae can burrow through the skin of a dogs paws. Hookworms are treated by administering a dewormer medication.
Whipworms live in a dog’s large intestine and are very difficult to detect. A dog becomes infected with this parasite by ingesting soil, grass, feces etc. that is contaminated. Whipworms look like tiny pieces of thread! These worms intermittently shed eggs in a dogs’ stool which can survive for years. A dog with whipworms may have a negative stool sample one week and positive the next!
Most dogs develop few symptoms, making this parasite even harder to detect. Fortunately, this is not a life-threatening condition and can be treated with medication.
Tapeworms are a long, segmented worm that is carried by fleas. These worms live in a dogs intestines and can reach 1-2 feet in length! Most dogs do not become sick but you may notice them scooting across the floor and an irritation around the anus. You may see tiny “rice-like” grains around their hind-side. Tapeworms can generally be treated with over the counter medications specifically labeled to treat them.
More information of treating worms in dogs-including natural methods can be found at Dogs Naturally.
The parainfluenza virus is often called by other names such as the canine influenza virus and greyhound disease. Previously, the virus only affected horses but has mutated and now infects dogs. Currently, no other species is threatened by parainfluenza.
Parainfluenza virus can spread rapidly from dog to dog and cause life-threatening symptoms. Any area with large dog populations, such as kennels and pet stores are susceptible to the rapid spread of this highly contagious virus.
Canine parainfluenza is transmitted from dog to dog contact or by coming in contact with their feeding bowls and/or bedding. It is also transmitted trough airborne particles via coughing or sneezing.
Some symptoms of this virus are a persistent cough, high fever, sneezing, running nose, inflamed eyes and lack of energy. A blood test is generally used to detect the virus which can be treated with antibiotics.
There are parainfluenza vaccines such as the DHPP Vaccine that treats other conditions as well. Read more about it at PetMD.
4. Kennel cough
The common cold in humans can be caused by many viruses, just as kennel cough in canines can have many causes. One of the most common causes is the Bordetella bronchiseptica m bacterium. This is the reason kennel cough is sometimes called Bordatella.
Kennel cough is a highly contagious form of canine bronchitis sometimes referred to as canine infectious respiratory disease (CIRD).
It is transmitted through airborne droplets and direct contact with dog food bowls, toys, bedding etc. Some common symptoms are a hacking/honking cough, sneezing, runny nose and low grade fever.
It is commonly spread in areas where many dogs are in close contact with each other. It usually takes about 2 weeks for symptoms to develop, and while it is not serious for most dogs, a severe form of pneumonia may occur. Treatment generally involves antibiotics and rest.
Dogs should be vaccinated against Bordetella bronchiseptica and canine parainfluenza to prevent the virus.